PM Scott Morrison says it’s time to get Australians back to work after coronavirus shutdown…but, how do we do this safely?

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Mr. Morrison said another national cabinet meeting this Friday (7 May) will provide a consistent approach to reopening the economy across the states and territories.

To support this, new workplace safety protocols have been released by SafeWork Australia (SWA) to guide businesses out of the coronavirus pandemic. The measures are industry-specific, dividing the economy into 23 industry sectors to provide specific guidance

SWA has identified National COVID-19 safe workplace principles in transitioning back to work, including;

  1. All workers have the right to a healthy and safe working environment.
  2. Businesses must, in consultation with workers, assess the way they work to identify, understand and quantify risks and to implement and review control measures to address those risks.
  3. As COVID-19 restrictions are gradually relaxed, businesses, workers and other duty holders must work together to adapt and promote safe work practices, to ensure their workplaces are ready for the social distancing and exemplary hygiene measures that will be an important part of the transition.
  4. Businesses must actively control against the transmission of COVID-19 while at work,
  5. Businesses and workers must prepare for the possibility that there will be cases of COVID-19 in the workplace and be ready to respond.

What does this mean for you and your business?

As an officer of your company, you need to exercise ‘due diligence’ to ensure that your employees comply with their duties and obligations. In relation to COVID-19, due diligence means you must:

  • Assess the risks of COVID-19 on your workplace and workers;
  • Make sure your workplace is properly resourced to manage WHS risks, whether this be adequate staff for enforcement, soap for hand washing or even enhanced cleaning regimes;
  • Review and update your businesses policies, procedures and reporting processes to ensure they address the risks of COVID-19;
  • Provide instruction and training to workers on things they need to do to help manage the risk in your workplace including the risk of COVID-19 spreading in that workplace;
  • Monitor the enforcement of the processes implemented; and
  • Regularly review the COVID-19 situation and ensure that new information, policies, procedures and processes about COVID-19 are communicated clearly to workers when changes occur.

As mentioned SWA have provided WHS guidance and tools that workplaces can use in their management of health and safety risks posed by COVID-19. The detail can be overwhelming, but we are here to help even if you are just looking for some reassurance that you have not missed anything.

In conducting the risk assessment and implementing controls some of the things you will need to consider include:

  • Worker and customer hygiene
  • Cleaning the workplace and equipment
  • Social distancing
  • Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)
  • Stress and psychological safety
  • Emergency planning
  • Incident Response
  • Staff Training
  • Enforcement and Monitoring

We understand that every business is unique, and we can assist you in interpreting the risks around COVID-19 that your business faces to ensure your employees are safe and your obligations are being met.

So feel free to contact us here for a no obligation review of your COVID-19 preparedness.